What I Have Failed To Do – A Sin

Richard Salbato May 18, 2011


At the end of your confession you say the confession prayer, O my God, etc. In this prayer we say that we are Sorry for what we have done and what we have failed to do. Then we promise to avoid the mere occasion of sin.

The object of this Newsletter is to address the sin of failure to do good.  Consider the Good Samaritan parable.  The high priests saw this man on the side of the road having been robbed and beaten and perhaps dying. They blessed him and went on their way without helping him. In their mind they committed no sin because they consider sin as what they do wrong, not what they fail to do.

Now consider the Bible story of Lazarus.

Now there was a certain rich man, and he was clothed in purple and fine linen, living in luxury every day. A certain beggar, named Lazarus, was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table. Yes, even the dogs came and licked his sores. It happened that the beggar died, and that he was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died, and was buried. In Hades, he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far off, and Lazarus at his bosom. He cried and said, "Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue! For I am in anguish in this flame.

Again consider that it was not what the rich man did but what he did not do.  The same is true about the parable of the talents:

To one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The one who had received five talents went off right away and put his money to work270 and gained five more. 17 In the same way, the one who had two gained two more. 18 But the one who had received one talent went out and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money in it.

When the rich man returned he took account of what his people did with his talents and to the one to did nothing he said:

And throw that worthless slave into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’ (Matthew 25:13-30). 271

This man ended up in Hell not for what he did but what he did not do.  When we go to confession to we confess only what we did wrong or also what we failed to do wright? Let us consider the most often sins of neglect.

We are commanded to love God with our whole mind, heart and soul. Have we failed to know God?  How can we love what we do not know?  Considering that Christ is the Word of God, can we love the Word we have not studied?  Then there are the people who love some of the Word, but not all of the Word.  That is like loving the beauty of a woman but not her true self.

In all our lives we have responsibilities.  Even as a child we have responsibilities to obey our parents.  In school we must obey our teachers.  God gave us intelligence but it must be fed to be useful to God. Have we failed to educate ourselves.  Many of us take better care of our body than we do of our brains.  It is a sin to make it hard for others to learn, but it is also a sin for failing to learn. Today many do not care to learn because they believe the government will take care of them.

Do we fail to vote?  More important than that do we fail to educate ourselves before voting.  My brother told me of a friend of his who goes to Mass seven days a week, but only votes Democrat because her family only votes Democratic and does not bother to learn what they stand for.

A have a close friend who is Armenia Orthodox and I tested him on his beliefs. His real beliefs are more Catholic than Orthodox and he did not even know it because he did not know what the Orthodox doctrine was. Nonetheless, he will not change religion because that is the faith of his family and friends. What will God say when he dies?

Deliberate ignorance is the greatest of all sins of neglect.

One of the sins that makes me most angry is the failure of coming to the aid of someone who is abused mentally or physically by others. How many times have I seen on TV people standing by doing nothing as someone is beat up or mentally abused. This failure to have courage is sinful because it is a love of self more than a love of others. Christ said, Do un to others as you would want them to do to you. If you were being abused would want others to stand by doing nothing?  

Parents who spoil their children do so because they are too lazy and it is easier to say “Yes” than to do the right thing. Parents who give up on their children are giving up on the problems that they partially caused but do not want to pay the price for what they failed to do.  I am 72 years old but my children are still my responsibility. I am never not their father and they are never not my children.

Think about the priests and bishops who fail to teach sin and confession. What will God say to them? Think about the priests and bishops who live in luxury but want the government to take over the charity that God commanded of them. These same bishops want us the think that government charity is more important than abortion. Many say that breaking the law of immigration is not sinful because if fills up their churches that would otherwise be failing.

If we as Catholics were as charitable today as we were 70 years ago, our churches would be filled by all the people we helped. But now we do not think that our failures to do good are sins.

Richard Salbato


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